updated 6/29/2005 2:40:14 PM ET 2005-06-29T18:40:14

A mother was charged with felony child abuse for allegedly putting her two 5-year-olds in the trunk of her car in a store parking lot.

Police said Tamatha Parker, 33, told authorities she would turn herself in Wednesday.

She was not arrested after the incident Saturday because the children became upset about the possibility of their mother going to jail, authorities said.

Another driver in the Wal-Mart parking lot alerted an off-duty, out-of-town police officer, who said he made the driver let the children out of the trunk. He also contacted local police.

“I don’t think any reasonable adult would have done anything differently,” said Wayne Ingersoll, who was back at work on the Sandown, N.H., police force Tuesday. “The dangers of children being in a trunk like that are obvious, especially on such a hot day.”

Ingersoll said the driver initially denied having children in the trunk, but then untied the rope that was holding the trunk shut and let out the children. The woman told city police that she was punishing the children for misbehaving inside the store, authorities said.

She also told police she did not plan to leave the parking lot with them in the trunk, Fredericksburg police spokesman Jim Shelhorse said.

Ingersoll said he had been on vacation in South Carolina and stopped in Fredericksburg to have his camper repaired.

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